Former world champion Mark Webster missed just two darts at double as he stormed through to the second-round of the 2017 PDC World Championship, as Ian White and Chris Dobey also tasted victory on Sunday afternoon at the Alexandra Palace.
Webster produced a masterclass in finishing as he overcame Joe Murnan in straight sets. The former world champion converted nine of his eleven double attempts at an astonishing 82% success rate to record a 3-0 victory, despite averaging 87.78 to Murnan’s 88.84.
The opening two legs of the contest were shared, before Webster took out 65 via D4 to break throw. The Welshman then clinched the first set with a clinical 70 finish to maintain his 100% checkout percentage, before holding throw in the opening leg of set two with a majestic 129 finish (T19, T16, D12) as Murnan was sat poised on tops.
Webster was yet to post a score of over 140 but continued his stunning sequence of finishing to break Murnan’s throw with a quality two-dart 88 checkout. ‘Shaggy’ stayed alive in set two by taking out 56 to break, but Webby fired in his first maximum before rounding-off a 14-darter to maintain his flawless finishing and double his lead.
The first three legs in set three all went with throw with Murnan 2-1 ahead, before Webster heaped the pressure on the Bolton ace; hitting D5 after previously missing his first darts at double. ‘Shaggy’ missed two darts to prolong the contest and Webster duly pounced, converting a clinical two-dart 84 kill to triumph in comprehensive fashion.
Webster was thrilled with the victory but admitted experience proved crucial: “This is only his second World Championship and it’s my eleventh, so I’ve got a lot of experience on him and I think that showed on the big shots I took out. I generally don’t do too badly at Alexandra Palace; I’ve got to the semis and quarters before; I thrive on this event.”
Chris Dobey fended off a spirited fightback from Justin Pipe to triumph on his Ally Pally debut. The 26-year-old averaged 90.70, converted 55% of his doubles and produced three ton-plus finishes to record a 3-1 victory, as Pipe suffered his third successive first-round World Championship defeat, despite hitting seven maximums.
Dobey clinched the opener after capitalising on a multitude of missed doubles from ‘The Force’. He won the opening leg in 13 darts, before converting a clinical 71 finish to double his lead after Pipe spurned five darts at double to hold. ‘The Force’ then pinned a 76 kill to stay alive in the set, before a further four missed darts at double gifted the set to Dobey.
Dobey made a flying start to set two, by converting a 56 checkout to break, before following up his first maximum with an 11-darter to move within a leg of doubling his advantage. Pipe won just his second leg on D4, but ‘Hollywood’ was undeterred and doubled his lead in sets with a clinical 101 finish to continue his fine finishing.
The 26-year-old showed his first signs of frailties on the doubles as Pipe moved 2-0 ahead in set three, but Dobey reeled off back-to-back legs to throw for the match. The Bedlington ace appeared in control but missed match darts at tops and tens, which Pipe ruthlessly punished by taking out 78 to snatch the set and stay afloat.
Nevertheless, Dobey responded superbly. He took out 100 to break ‘The Force’ before posting a classy 105 checkout to move within a leg of victory. Yet once more, Pipe fought back valiantly. He held throw on D3, before taking out a fine two-dart 70 kill to break back.
Pipe then landed his seventh maximum as he appeared destined to draw level and force a fifth and final set, but the three-time major semi-finalist squandered five darts at D8 and Dobey gratefully exploited this reprieve, pinning tops to complete a 74 kill and seal his spot in the second-round.
Dobey, a recent Grand Slam quarter-finalist; told Josh’s Dartistry:“I was relieved to get over the winning line. You’ve got to play your own game. I’ve got a lot of respect for Justin. I know the crowd get on his back but every player has got their own action and fair play to Justin; he’s a great guy.
“I’m playing well and there’s better to come. I’ve got another hard game on my hands against Rowby or Chizzy. I’ve just got to prepare right, enjoy Christmas come back and I’ll be ready for them,” Dobey added.
Ian White eased through to round-two with a victory over PDPA qualifier Kevin Simm, to set up a second-round clash with Gerwyn Price’s conqueror, Jonny Clayton. The fourteenth seed averaged 87.20, landed two maximums and converted 53% of his double attempts to progress.
Earlier in the day, Simm progressed to the first-round with a straight sets victory over Phillipines’ Gilbert Ulang in an attritional battle. Neither player performed well, but the 48-year-old PDPA qualifier averaged 76.05, hit 19 ton-plus scores and converted 27% of his double attempts to prevail.
However, he didn’t enjoy such fortune against his ex-county teammate, as White prevailed in a scrappy opening set. Simm started brightly by firing in a maximum and breaking in 15 darts, but White won the next three legs to clinch the opener, despite averaging a modest 82.99.
The second set was a dramatic affair. Simm drew first blood after the pair exchanged maximums, but White landed five perfect darts in the next leg en route to drawing level. The next two legs both went against throw as Simm threw for the set, but the qualifier missed three set darts, before White landed an inspired 130 checkout on the bull to punish.
White claimed the opening leg of set three on D4, but Simm eventually levelled on D6 after enduring double trouble earlier in the leg. The next two legs both went with throw, but for the second set in succession, White clinched the set decider, taking out 58 in two-darts to seal a relatively comfortable triumph.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
William Hill World Darts Championship
Sunday December 18
Afternoon Session (1pm)
Kevin Simm 2-0 Gilbert Ulang (P)
Justin Pipe (26) 1-3 Chris Dobey
Mark Webster (25) 3-0 Joe Murnan
Ian White (14) 3-0 Kevin Simm